Healthy versus unhealthy suppliers in food desert neighborhoods: A network analysis of corner stores’ food supplier networks

Yeeli Mui, Bruce Y. Lee, Atif Adam, Anna Y. Kharmats, Nadine Budd, Claudia Nau, Joel Gittelsohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Products in corner stores may be affected by the network of suppliers from which storeowners procure food and beverages. To date, this supplier network has not been well characterized. Methods: Using network analysis, we examined the connections between corner stores (n = 24) in food deserts of Baltimore City (MD, USA) and their food/beverage suppliers (n = 42), to determine how different store and supplier characteristics correlated. Results: Food and beverage suppliers fell into two categories: Those providing primarily healthy foods/beverages (n = 15) in the healthy supplier network (HSN) and those providing primarily unhealthy food/beverages (n = 41) in the unhealthy supplier network (UHSN). Corner store connections to suppliers in the UHSN were nearly two times greater (t = 5.23, p < 0.001), and key suppliers in the UHSN core were more diverse, compared to the HSN. The UHSN was significantly more cohesive and densely connected, with corner stores sharing a greater number of the same unhealthy suppliers, compared to HSN, which was less cohesive and sparsely connected (t = 5.82; p < 0.001). Compared to African Americans, Asian and Hispanic corner storeowners had on average _1.53 (p < 0.001) fewer connections to suppliers in the HSN (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Our findings indicate clear differences between corner stores’ HSN and UHSN. Addressing ethnic/cultural differences of storeowners may also be important to consider.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15058-15074
Number of pages17
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Nov 30 2015


  • Corner store
  • Food deserts
  • Food environment
  • Food supply
  • Healthy food availability
  • Network analysis
  • Obesity
  • Urban health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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